VR headset market poised for hockey-stick growth | Mobile | News | Rapid TV News
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VR 24 Feb 2017 The market for virtual reality (VR) headsets is expected to be worth $9.1 billion by 2021, according to forecasts from CCS Insight.

CCS WW VR AR forecast February2017The research estimates that the total VR device market (smartphone VR and dedicated VR) will be worth $1.5 billion this year, meaning big growth is expected for this nascent area.

Breaking it down into segments, sales of dedicated VR headsets are expected to grow to 22 million units by 2021 — an 800% increase over 2017.

Dedicated VR headsets such as the HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift and Sony's PlayStation VR deliver significantly higher quality experiences compared with their smartphone VR cousins, but sales have been shy of expectations. CCS Insight has adjusted its number to reflect a slower-than-expected start for the dedicated market. Previously it expected 2 million units to be sold in 2016 – it now estimates 1.2 million were sold.

CCS Insight believes that by 2019 dedicated VR devices will start offering a meaningful revenue contribution to companies that have commercial products in this area, and by 2021, the dedicated VR market will be worth $7.7 billion. The higher cost of dedicated headsets will see them accounting for 85% of total market value despite making up only 24% of unit sales. They are expected to prove popular among gamers and other enthusiasts.

"There's no doubt that dedicated VR headsets can be a tough sell,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. “The complete package of the headset and a high-end PC is out of reach for most consumers; and, even the PlayStation VR, which can be used with the PS4 games console, has failed to meet expectations. There's a lot of work to be done on all aspects of the experience, but we still believe there's tremendous potential.”

Meanwhile, smartphone VR devices continue to deliver the lion's share of unit volumes for now. CCS Insight expects that 14 million smartphone VR headsets will be sold in 2017, rising to 25 million in 2018. Overall, global sales of smartphone virtual reality headsets are expected to grow fivefold to reach 70 million by 2021. The segment will be worth $500 million in 2017, rising to approximately $1.4 billion by 2021.

"Headsets designed for smartphones are the entry point for most consumers when it comes to virtual reality,” Wood said. “Google's Cardboard devices and Samsung's Gear VR headsets have been the early market makers in this area. We expect the momentum to continue at Mobile World Congress next week, with Google's Daydream headsets being a prominent part of many high-end smartphone launches.”

This year also will see the emergence of untethered solutions that will be more immersive than ever, Wood noted.

“Audiences will have access to a more diverse range of ever-richer content and experiences that we believe will further boost the market,” said Wood. “The proliferation of VR experiences in theme parks, at cinemas and in other locations such as car showrooms and travel agents offering 'look before you book' experiences will only serve to educate users on the potential of the technology.”